The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) acknowledges International Women’s Day (IWD) on Monday. IWD celebrates the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.

The purpose of the day is to recognise that securing peace, social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality, and development of women, and to acknowledge the contribution of women to strengthening international peace and security.

This year’s United Nations theme for IWD is ‘Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all’. In his message for this year’s IWD, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights that gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to achieving equal rights and dignity for all.

The theme reminds us how vital equal rights and equal opportunities are in ensuring progress for all, including lesbians, gay men and their families. The feminist movement is analogous to lesbian and gay social movements in that they share a history of campaigning for social justice.

While both movements have seen greater legislative equality, visibility, and acceptance within society, the unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to men and are unrepresented in business and politics, violence against women and homophobic violence is still alive and well, and lesbians, gay men, and their families are still not treated equally under the law.

The NSW Adoption Act does not allow same-sex couples to apply to adopt. The Adoption Act is the last piece of legislation in NSW that directly discriminates against same-sex couples and their families. The federal Marriage Act prohibits same-sex couples from marrying. There are no federal anti-discrimination provisions to protect people from unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

IWD is an opportunity for people to unite, network, and mobilise for meaningful change. The GLRL encourages everyone to use IWD to reflect on how far the feminist and lesbian and gay rights movement has come, and to continue to push our MPs for legislative change which will ensure formal equality for lesbians, gay men and their families — a necessary step towards substantial social equality.

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